[Feb 21]--The Agenda

Isaiah 66:18-24

           So now we come to the last words of Isaiah the prophet. Regarding the man, we should note that according to tradition, he was sawn in two by King Manasseh, dying a martyr’s death. He comforted others with his words from the Almighty; we can only hope they were a comfort to him as well.
          If you’re familiar with Isaiah’s work, then you might have missed something from our study: Where’s Jesus? The prophet had a lot to say about the first coming of the Messiah, so why haven’t we looked at that? We’re going to. Over the next week or so we’re going to see what Isaiah and other prophets had to say about the first arrival of the Messiah. But that starts tomorrow.
          Before the prophet left this earth, he had a few more words to say to us about God’s ultimate plan. Lots of people wonder what the Lord's will is for their lives, and a few people actually claim to know it: “God told me to tell you this.  . .” I myself am very careful about phrases like that, since God takes a rather dim view of anyone who speaks in his name who’s not authorized to do so. The Bible’s last verses have a stern warning to anyone who adds to it.
          However, where God makes his agenda and will plain for us from his word, we’re remiss if we don’t tell people about it. You want to know what his will is for your life? I can tell you right now. Listen very carefully, lean down close so I can whisper it in your ear—His will for your life is. . . to glorify his name through your life. What’s his plan for the nations? You guessed it: To glorify his name among all the different peoples, cultures, societies, etc.
          Now, you might be asking, how exactly is he going to work all that out, either in your personal life or on the international scene? Let’s take it on the personal level first. We know he wants to bring glory to his name through your life, and he will, one way or the other. But what about the details? That’s different for every person. Ask for his guidance and wisdom, obey what he’s made clear from his word, seek counsel from godly siblings if you need it, then go forward with what you desire. As long as you keep the “main thing” the “main thing,” you’ll be fine.
          How do we interpret passages like today as far the “big picture” goes? Are they completely fulfilled now by the work of the Church, or will they literally be fulfilled when he returns? Good Christians debate that issue. I have my interpretation of it, but does it really matter? He’s made his ultimate purpose clear. If it is literally fulfilled later, does that let us off the hook from trying to recruit worshippers right here and now? Of course not.
          Jesus' last instructions for us before he returned to his Father leave no wiggle room: “[Go] and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” I don’t care how you interpret the book of Revelation, that’s not rocket science or brain surgery. Someone once said “It’s not the parts of the Bible that are hard to understand that bother me. It’s the parts which are crystal clear which disturb me the most.”
          And based on Isaiah’s very last words to us, I have to present a warning. He describes in dreadful detail what happens to those who end up on the wrong side of history from God’s perspective. If this sounds like a description of Hell, it is. Someone might read this and say “Oh, it’s not talking about eternal torment. It just says that the worms and fire never die.” Let me ask you something. Who’s a better interpreter of Scripture: Some guy with letters behind his name, or Jesus? He quoted these exact verses when describing hell. He wasn’t kidding about it.
          I’m not doing this to depress you. Am I mentioning it to frighten you? Well, that depends. If you don’t belong to Christ, then you should be scared. You have every reason to be scared. Why not do something about it?

Father God, I know what your will is, at least the important parts. It’s not knowledge that’s the problem. It’s doing what I know I need to do, what you’ve made crystal clear. By your grace, I want to do it.

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